(CNN) - In a video message e-mailed Saturday, President Obama calls on those who voted for him in the presidential election to throw their support behind his economic stimulus plan.
“If you haven’t been affected by this crisis, you’ve likely comforted somebody who has,” Obama says before making his case for the stimulus package making its way through Senate.
Obama says his package will create or save more than 3 million jobs, “many in your own communities,” and insists his plan is one that “America so desperately needs.”
“I know some critics are worried about the scale of this plan but if we fail to pass it promptly, our economy will fall $1 trillion short of what it’s capable of producing this year. In order to make up that difference, economists agree we must act boldly.”
Obama vows to “enlist all of you” to oversee the plan.
“As soon as this plan is signed into law, recovery.gov goes live, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your tax dollars are going, because this is your democracy, and as I said throughout the campaign, change never begins from the top down. It begins from the bottom up,” he says.
The president’s personal message comes as polls show that the public’s support for the stimulus has slipped.
(CNN) - President Obama called for immediate action on the economic stimulus plan in this week’s radio and Internet address.
The president said Democrats and Republicans “responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands” by reaching a tentative agreement on the economic package late Friday.
“The scale and scope of this plan is right. And the time for action is now,” the president said.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama spoke out Thursday about his religious transformation. The President's comments came at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Here's what Obama said, according to the prepared remarks.
"I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.
I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose. "
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will make changes Thursday to President Bush's controversial Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, partly to ensure religious groups that receive government money do not discriminate in hiring, administration officials said.
Obama will sign an executive order that will strengthen the constitutional and legal grounding of the Office, two senior administration officials told CNN.
Critics of the agency, which steers government money to religious charities that perform social services, say that under the Bush Administration faith groups were allowed to take religion into account when hiring.
On contentious issues like hiring, Obama found that one of the problems with the previous Initiative was that tough questions were decided without appropriate consideration, data, and input from different sides, the officials said. There were ideological decisions, instead of decisions based in fact, they added.
Obama officials say his executive order will make religious groups demonstrate to the government that their hiring is legal and non-discriminatory.
(CNN) - President Obama will unveil a revamped office of Faith-Based Initiatives Thursday, and a new approach to the controversial program established by former President George Bush.
The office, tasked with steering federal funds to charitable organizations tied to churches and faith-based organizations, will be headed by Josh DuBois – a 26 year-old Pentecostal minister who was in charge of religious outreach for the Obama campaign.
According to a White House official, the basic structure of the office will remain the same as it was under Bush, but Obama is introducing a new component: an advisory council of 25 leaders - secular and religious - who will help inform the Office and provide advice on other policy issues.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rang in the new year still saddled with $5.9 million in debts left over from her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, according to records filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.
The nation's top diplomat has been steadily chipping away at unpaid campaign bills since suspending her White House bid in June, when her debt peaked at $25.2 million.
That amount included both $12 million owed to vendors and the $13.2 million she loaned her campaign from personal funds.
Clinton's campaign was unable to repay that personal loan by the time the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver, Colorado, in August, the deadline mandated by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
The former New York senator has since forgiven the entire loan amount, leaving only the $5.9 million owed to vendors on the campaign's books.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama poked fun Saturday night at his chief of staff and ribbed Washington's elite during a black-tie dinner at Alfalfa Club, a 93-year-old Washington social club.
The first African-American president began by poking fun at the club's historical roots.
"I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost 100 years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee," Obama said, referring to the man who commanded the Confederate army during the Civil War.
"If he were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old. And very confused."
The ceremony was closed to the media. But the White House released excerpts of the president's remarks.
The Alfalfa Club was started by four Southerners in Washington's Willard Hotel in 1913. Its sole purpose was an annual night out for the boys, and it took its name from a thirsty plant that sends its roots deep down looking for liquid refreshment.
The club remained exclusively open to men until 1994, when women were admitted as members.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Voters in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Reno will wake Friday morning to a new radio advertisement calling on them to urge their Republican senators to support President Obama's stimulus plan.
The commercials blast House Republicans for refusing to vote for Obama's stimulus proposal this week, claiming that the GOP lawmakers took marching orders from conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh not to support it.
The ad, paid for by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, targets Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio. Specter is seeking re-election in 2010, while Voinovich is retiring when his term expires at the close of that year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama, who arguably won a large chunk of political capital in the 2008 election, is now looking to cash in as he urges Congress to pass a massive economic stimulus package.
But questions about how to spend the money and concerns about the last stimulus package under former President Bush, may create a roadblock.
It's something the newly minted president is hoping to avoid. But like most things in Washington, cooperation doesn't come easy.
And that may be why Obama painted an extremely grim portrait of the nation's economy on Saturday - just hours before he met with his economic team, and days before he meets with Republicans leaders on Capitol Hill.
"We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last 26 years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits."
Obama pleaded for quick action, warning, "a bad situation could become dramatically worse." Watch Obama's weekly address
The president urged congressional members to quickly pass an $825 billion economic stimulus package, which he hopes will create up to 4 million jobs over the next two years.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, who faced a long, bruising campaign against President Obama, has taken on a new role in the Obama administration: "Loyal opposition."
McCain defined his role as, "[To] help and work together where I can, and stand up for the principles and the party and the philosophy that I campaigned on and have stood for for many years," to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
McCain, who has long championed bipartisanship in Washington, said while it's important for Americans to come together, it doesn't mean "that as the loyal opposition that I or my party will be a rubber stamp."
But the former Republican presidential candidate said he can use his experience to help Obama with a long-standing problem besides the economy.
"I think I can help in devising a strategy for Afghanistan. The hard truth is that the Afghan war has deteriorated," he said.
McCain's comments come amid recent U.S. bombings targeting al Qaeda in the Waziristan area of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The rocky terrain has long been seen as a haven for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda operatives.